We caught up with Hive athlete Adrienne Taren to learn how she developed her passion for gravel riding.
Where is home?
I currently live in Tulsa, OK. I am a Pennsylvania native and have previously lived in Vermont and North Dakota.
What is your primary sport?
Ultra racing, in general, but mostly gravel riding. I come from a running background and dabbled in triathlon before finding my current home off-road. I love to jump into trail runs when I can, but primarily focus on long-distance gravel riding events. There’s an incredible sense of community and a laid-back vibe in gravel racing, but it also requires physical, technical and psychological skill.
What is your profession?
By day/night/mid-shift, I am an emergency medicine physician in my final year of residency. I also have a PhD in neuroscience and have stayed involved in research with a focus on performance optimization with mindfullness training.
How did you get into this sport and how many years have you been participating?
I’ve been racing on gravel for about 2.5 years, and started when I moved back to the Midwest and found gravel. Prior to that, I was struggling with constant injuries, pain and an autoimmune disease while trying to run at an elite level. I quickly realized that being on my bike gave me the time out in nature that had been missing from my life. I fell in love with it, and haven’t looked back.
Why do you compete?
To burn off the crazy, learn more about myself, and to stay in touch with the essence of what matters in life – nature, forming human connections, and having experiences that no one can ever take away from you.
What is your favorite place or race you have ever trained or competed in?
It’s a tie between Land Run in Stillwater, OK and Dirty Kanza in Emporia, KS. The Flint Hills and Oklahoma red dirt provide some of the most challenging gravel riding and running. Seriously, people take naps in ditches mid-race! The energy and community support is what really makes these events unique. Hundreds of locals will come out to line the start and finish, and random people will be out with water or beer along the course.
Photo by Markman Outdoor Photography
What are your big bucket list events or rides?
The Tour Divide (Great Divide Mountain Bike Route)! It’s 2,700 miles of self-supported bikepacking from Canada to Antelope Wells, NM. It’s a stunning, challenging and unpredictable race. I’ve been stretching myself to do longer solo adventures in the meantime, most recently the northwest portion of the Arkansas High County Route. I love the community you find at organized races, but setting out on your own and being self-sufficient while living off your bike, figuring out where to find water and where to sleep… there’s and incredible sense of self-satisfaction from accomplishing something like that.
Are there pieces of advice you have learned over the years and would like to pass on?
1) Don’t over-complicate things.
2) Eat, drink and pee when you can. You never know when the next opportunity will be.
3) Fuel for the next mile/20 miles/100k loop. Fueling during a 100k race should look very different than fueling for the first 100k of a 400k race. You have to stay ahead of your nutrition in ultras because your needs are just going to keep compounding. You can bring a lot of bonking misery upon yourself by not keeping up with calories from the get-go.
What is your favorite Honey Stinger product and flavor?
Gluten-free Chocolate Mint Waffles, no contest. During long-distance events, I do get flavor fatigue and like to mix up all of the gluten-free waffle flavors, but this is always my go-to. I have Celiac Disease, and it can be hard to find great gluten-free products with clean ingredients that can keep you going.
What is your favorite quote?
“Sh*t will buff out.” It’s something my partner says to me whenever I’m perseverating on something. For example, “My knee is twinging,” “There’s a thunderstorm rolling in,” “My drivetrain sounds like it’s held together with paper clips.” It’ll all buff out.
Photo by Markman Outdoor Photography
Follow along with Adrienne’s adventures: